GOP centrists come under increased attacks from own party

The 13 House Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill are being taunted as traitors and threatened with primary challenges from far-right lawmakers for breaking party lines to help give President BidenJoe BidenDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors On The Money — Vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses nixed Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case MORE a long-sought legislative victory.

The attacks come from fellow House Republicans, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneGOP efforts to downplay danger of Capitol riot increase The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she's meeting with Trump 'soon' in Florida MORE (Ga.) and Madison Cawthorn (N.C.), who denounced them as “traitors” who “voted to help Biden screw America.” Both vowed to back primary challengers.

Greene tweeted out the office phone numbers of the 13 Republicans, whom she blasted for having “handed over their voting cards to Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse leaders unveil bill to boost chip industry, science competitiveness with China Pelosi says she will run for reelection in 2022 Hoyer says 'significant' version of Build Back Better will pass this year MORE to pass Joe Biden’s Communist takeover of America via so-called infrastructure.”


That led to a flood of angry and at times threatening phone calls for the office of Rep. Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonThe fates of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump House Republican, Democrat say political environment on Capitol Hill is 'toxic' Sunday show preview: Omicron surges, and Harris sits for extensive interview MORE (Mich.), one of the 13 Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill.

A spokesman for Upton confirmed to The Hill that his office had received more than 1,000 calls since Greene tweeted out the phone number, with more than 90 percent estimated to be from people outside of the district.

Upton shared audio of one threatening message during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, in which a man called the Michigan Republican a “f---ing piece of shit traitor.” The man added: “I hope you die. I hope everybody in your f---ing family dies.”

“These are very disturbing adult language, to say the least, that truly is frightening and a real, real bad mark in terms of civility across the country as we’ve seen these issues like this jump,” Upton said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyPress: Newt says lock 'em up – for doing their job!  The Hill's Morning Report - Biden, NATO eye 'all scenarios' with Russia On The Money — Support for new COVID-19 relief grows MORE (R-Calif.) has not publicly commented on the threats received by Upton’s office. He has not publicly criticized the GOP members who voted for the infrastructure bill, which was also backed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHow Cruz Supreme Court case could lead to unlimited anonymous election spending Trump and Biden should stop denigrating US elections The Armageddon elections to come MORE (R-Ky.) and 18 other Senate Republicans.

McCarthy is also taking heat for a photo-manipulated anime video posted by far-right Rep. Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarJan. 6 committee subpoenas leaders of 'America First' movement Lawmakers coming under increased threats — sometimes from one another McCarthy says he'll strip Dems of committee slots if GOP wins House MORE (R-Ariz.), an ally of Greene’s, which depicted Gosar killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezNew Mexico Democrat tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case Hispanics sour on Biden and Democrats' agenda as midterms loom MORE (D-N.Y.) and swinging swords at Biden. McCarthy at press time had also not commented on the Gosar video.


Several of the 13 Republicans represent competitive districts and have gambled that taking credit for helping enact new infrastructure projects like roads, bridges and broadband networks will pay off with their constituents.

But in the meantime, they’re facing intense backlash from the right for daring to break party lines in a way that also boosts Biden — whom a significant number of GOP voters don’t believe was legitimately elected due to former President TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE’s false claims about the election.

Many of the 13 Republicans also cast their votes before the bill clinched 218 votes on the House floor late Friday night, rather than forcing Democrats to round up enough votes on their own first. That gave Democrats some wiggle room for defections after a long day of infighting and enabled a handful of progressives to cast their votes against it in protest over party strategy.

Cawthorn pledged he would “primary the hell out of” any Republican who backed the infrastructure bill. And Greene not only called for defeating them in primaries, but also taking away their committee assignments.

Greene — who was booted from House committees earlier this year for embracing conspiracy theories and appearing to endorse violence against Democrats — went further in calling for similar treatment for Republicans who voted for the bill.

“ ‘Majority Makers’ just became Socialism Makers. There is only one cure. Remove them from committees. Stop helping them financially. They don’t deserve it and solidly proved it by delivering Biden’s agenda. Primary them & build a better party that serves America,” Greene tweeted.

Greene and Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzOn The Money — Support for new COVID-19 relief grows House lawmakers urge Pelosi to bring stock trading ban to the floor Mask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House MORE (R-Fla.) have particularly targeted their ire toward Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote Democrats eye prime pickup chance in Katko retirement Clyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' MORE (N.Y.), the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Katko, who represents a district that Biden won by nine points in 2020, called the bill “a once in a generation investment in our nation’s physical infrastructure” and “a win for Central New York.”

But Greene and Gaetz highlighted Katko’s additional votes this year joining with Democrats in support of impeaching Trump after Jan. 6, taking away Greene’s committee assignments, creating a bipartisan commission to investigate Jan. 6 and holding former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon in contempt of Congress as evidence of what they see as insufficient party loyalty.

“I think right away John Katko should be removed as the Republican lead on the Homeland Security Committee, and everyone else who voted for these bills,” Gaetz said Monday in an interview with Newsmax.

A spokesman for McCarthy didn’t return a request for comment on Tuesday on whether he backed the push from Greene and Gaetz.

But so far, House GOP leaders have opted against booting members from committees for breaking the party line in other ways this year. GOP Reps. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden faces Ukraine decision amid Russia aggression Cheney hits Gingrich for saying Jan. 6 panel members may be jailed The Hill's Morning Report - US warns Kremlin, weighs more troops to Europe MORE (Wyo.) and Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerCheney hits Gingrich for saying Jan. 6 panel members may be jailed Jan. 6 committee subpoenas leaders of 'America First' movement Kinzinger welcomes baby boy MORE (Ill.) have not been stripped of their committee assignments after they accepted an invitation from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to serve on the select panel investigating Jan. 6, for instance.


Kinzinger, who is not running for reelection, also voted for the infrastructure bill.

House GOP leaders actively urged their rank and file to oppose the infrastructure bill, but taking committee assignments away from the 13 who voted for it would put them in the awkward position of punishing them for taking the same position as McConnell and the 18 other Senate Republicans who backed it in August. That group also includes Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators huddle on Russia sanctions as tensions escalate Juan Williams: It's Trump vs. McConnell for the GOP's future Biden's year two won't be about bipartisanship  MORE (S.C.), a close Trump ally.

McConnell this week praised the infrastructure bill as a “godsend” for his state because “we have a lot of infrastructure needs.”

The calls from the far-right to punish the Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill came as Democrats urged GOP leaders to take action against Gosar.

“There was a time when making light of murdering a colleague would elicit unified outrage. But not in McCarthy’s GOP. In McCarthy’s GOP they want to punish members who voted for infrastructure. That’s right, infrastructure. But condoning violence — that’s A-OK,” Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffMask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House CIA says 'Havana syndrome' unlikely a result of 'worldwide campaign' by foreign power The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta MORE (D-Calif.) said Tuesday. “It’s sick.”

Kinzinger, who has grown increasingly critical of his party after he voted to impeach Trump this year, expressed pessimism that GOP leaders would condemn Gosar for promoting political violence.

“Of course @GOP and @GOPLeader can condemn this proactively (not some sidestepping comment when asked about it.). They won’t. The ‘arm-pit farting’ of our politics is why we are failing the people,” Kinzinger tweeted.